China cities declare rain 'red alerts' amid power cuts, floods

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) – Five cities in the central Chinese province of Hubei have declared “red alerts” after torrential rain caused power cuts and destroyed homes, forcing the evacuation of nearly 6,000 people, state media reported.

Rescue crews have been dispatched to the worst affected areas, which include the cities of Suizhou, Xiangyang and Xiaogan, China’s Ministry of Emergency Management said. The city of Yicheng also saw a record 400 millimetres of rain on Thursday (Aug 12).

According to the official China News Service, as many as 774 reservoirs in Hubei had exceeded their flood warning levels by Thursday evening.

Extreme weather in the province has already damaged more than 3,600 houses and 8,110 hectares of crops, with total losses estimated at 108 million yuan (S$23 million), the official China Daily said, citing the province’s emergency management bureau.

China regularly experiences flooding during its wet summer months, but authorities have warned that extreme weather is now becoming more frequent as a result of climate change.

Around 80,000 were evacuated in the southwestern province of Sichuan last weekend and record rainfall in Henan last month caused floods that killed more than 300 people.

The China Meteorological Administration warned that heavy rainstorms were likely to continue until next week, with regions along the Yangtze river vulnerable to flooding.

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